Recipes: Elote with Smoked Paprika, Cumin Crema and More!

Young Kwak photo

Elote is a spicy, richly coated corn on the cob sold as a street food in Mexico. (Its sister dish, esquites, which is served at Cochinito, features corn accompanied with similar flavors but the corn is cut from the cob and served in a bowl.)

Cochinito Chef Travis Dickinson recommends removing the husk to promote caramelization on the corn kernels for his version of elote.

Smoked Paprika and Cumin Crema

• 1 pint sour cream
• 3/4 cup heavy cream
• 1 teaspoon chile powder
• 2 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 tablespoon smoked paprika (aka pimenton)
• 2 limes, zested and juiced
• 3 teaspoons kosher salt

In a large, nonreactive bowl combine ingredients with a whisk until uniform.

Your crema, which helps the cheese and cilantro stick to the corn, should be a bit thinner than sour cream, yet thick enough to coat the corn once it's cooked.

This can be made ahead and refrigerated, but you'll want to let it come to room temperature before applying to the just-cooked corn.

Young Kwak photo


• 8 ears corn
• 2 tablespoons chile powder
• 2 tablespoons ground cumin
• 2 tablespoons kosher salt
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 cup grated Cotija cheese (salty, crumbly cheese made from cow's milk you can find in the refrigerated deli section of most grocery stores)
• 1 cup finely chopped cilantro
• 2 limes, quartered

Preheat grill or BBQ to 400 degrees.

Combine the chile powder, cumin and salt.

Boil corn, unshucked, for 4 minutes in salted water (to loosen and more easily remove the silk, shuck, and let cool a bit). Another option is to just shuck, rinse and pat dry the corn.

Brush corn with oil and sprinkle with spice mixture. Grill corn on one side, undisturbed until some kernels begin to brown. Rotate 90 degrees and continue doing this until corn is roasted on all sides.

Remove to a plate and let cool just slightly.

Use a pastry brush to coat each ear of corn liberally with the crema (or you can roll the corn in the crema).

Sprinkle cotija and cilantro over each grilled cob.

Serve warm with lime wedges for juicing.

Roasted Corn and Tomato Salsa

This festive corn salsa recipe works as well on tacos as it does on grilled beef or pork. At Cochinito Taqueria, they like to add Mama Lil's brand pickled goat horn peppers for a little bit of tang.

• Kernels from 6 ears corn, cut off the cob
• 1 cup olive oil
• 3 cups white onion, sliced 1/8" thick        
• 6 cups heirloom tomato, diced small (canned, fire roasted tomatoes work well also)        
• 3/4 cup shallots, minced
• 1/2 cup garlic, minced     
• 3 tablespoons oregano, minced
• 3 tablespoons basil, minced fine
• 1 cup roasted red peppers, diced small (fresh or canned)
• Chile rub (although Cochinito makes their own, they love Spiceology's Adobo Latin)
• 2 limes
• 2 tablespoons salt

Shuck the corn. To remove kernels from the cob with a sharp knife, hold the tip of the cob against the cutting board and angle the knife towards the cob while cutting downward.

Toss corn with half of the oil to coat and two tablespoons chile rub. Roast corn in a 350-degree oven on a parchment-lined sheet pan until the corn is just picking up some color. Cool immediately to stop further cooking.

Brush sliced onions with remaining oil and season lightly with salt. Grill or roast in the oven until just charred, and cool immediately. Once cool, cut into small dice.

If using fresh bell peppers, char them over the grill or stove, place in a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap to steam, then easily remove the skins and seeds before dicing.

Zest the lime into a nonreactive bowl. Then cut limes in half and juice them both into the same bowl.

Add the diced tomatoes, cooked diced onions and corn, garlic, shallots, diced peppers, and fresh herbs.

Adjust seasoning to taste.

— Recipes courtesy of Cochinito Taqueria chef Travis Dickinson